Zoom Meeting Year Affected People’s Brains, Stanford Analysis Finds

We’ve reached the milestone of one full year of living in this pandemic-state of life, and it has become clear that this forced change in our lifestyles has had a serious effect on our bodies, in a variety of different ways. Zoom calls have become a part of our daily lives, and recent studies indicate that’s not necessarily a good thing. An analysis conducted by Stanford reveals that this big shift from in-person meetings to on-screen Zoom calls has significantly affected our brains. This unnatural mode of communication has come with some adverse effects on mental health.

According to Citizen Digital, there are many ways in which the brain is negatively triggered by Zoom calls, many of which can be lessened with a few easy steps.

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Human beings are wired for in-person interactions, and staring at a screen with a number of faces staring back at us in a series of boxes, is simply not a normal process. Being stared at by so many faces that appear so ‘up-close’ subconsciously forces the human brain to interpret this as a ‘fight or flight’ situation. There is simply too much exposure to the camera.

Citizen Digital describes this by saying; “That grid of faces simulates an encounter where you’re faced with a confrontation in a small space,” which instantly brings a new level of awareness to this situation. They go on to state that; “in similar situations, like an elevator, people usually keep their eyes to the ground and avoid close confrontation. But a Zoom call smothers everyone with gaze, so thought they are just staring at a camera, it simulates a confrontation and triggers your fight-or-flight instincts.”

For those who feel uncomfortable in these Zoom calls, it’s clear that they’re not alone.

As the founders of Zoom continue to see business growth, and more and more people use the platform, it brings to the surface yet another issue concerning the brain’s interpretations of this prolonged exposure to Zoom calls, and that relates directly to self-perception. Most people are not accustomed to spending so much time looking at themselves, but it’s hard to resist fixating on a self-image that appears right there in a box on everyone’s screen.

WCVB goes on to reveal how stressful it is for Zoom users to constantly fixate on their self-image. Staring at the box that contains your face is a normal reaction when on these calls, but generates issues with too much self-criticism. This disproportionately affects women and becomes a worrisome platform that opens up too many opportunities for stressful self-evaluation. It’s unnatural for anyone to look at themselves for this long.

To help curb some of these effects, experts suggest minimizing the box that contains your own image, or turning off the video portion entirely.

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Sources: WCVB, Citizen Digital, Mercury News

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